Happy Valentine’s Day!

It was a perfectly nice mid-February morning in Estabrook Park with temps in the teens, but light winds, and even a bit of sunshine before the clouds rolled in and the snow flurries started.

I was happy to find a goldeneye hen still gracing us with her presence on the river near the south end.

As I continued north, the only other birds I saw on the water were about a half dozen mallards, and the open water around the falls was completely empty.

Above the falls, I finally found someone willing to lend us some holiday color.

There was nobody notable at the north end nor at the pond (except Brian, but he said “no photos”) so I continued south along the river. There I encountered this interesting spectacle: a crow making the oddest sound. I read

Most scientists describe it as the “rattle call” (for those who haven’t heard it, it really does sound like the rattling growl of the predator from the 1987 movie). Unfortunately, we don’t know what it means. There is evidence that only female crows utter this sound.

Anyway, a little further south, back beside the open water, I spotted our old friend, the solo hooded merganser hen.

I was happy to see that she was so put out by my attempts to get her picture, that she settled down onto the ice and tucked her toes up into her feathers. That must feel nice.

Then we both heard a commotion farther south on the river, and it really got her attention. She even stuck her toes back out, just in case.

It turns out to have been another young eagle, but one with a nearly white head whom I don’t believe we’ve seen before, making an unsuccessful try for one of the mallards dabbling on the river. Here it is when I finally located it perched above the water on the east side.

And here’s the goldeneye hen, from earlier in the morning, after she scrambled out of harm’s way to join the merganser hen, and the drake that came with her. As John McClane so famously uttered, “Welcome to the party, Pal.”

Finally, this is as close as our new eagle was willing to let me get before it glided off down the river. Based on the handy chart provided by Alfredo Begazo, Ph.D. on his “Avian Report”, I’d guess this individual is 2½ – 3½ years old.

Lastly, thanks to all of you who listened in on my little presentation yesterday. Our host, Lorraine Jacobs, reported afterwards that “We had more viewers … than any other zoom Forum this church year.” Way to represent, people!

If you missed it, I see that they have already published the recording on their youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_rRlhlknGk

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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